Facebook does sometimes throw up intriguing info. There’s a Lord’s Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence. A friend of mine shared a Facebook post which had a quote from that Committee’s report on “Persuasion and Power in the Modern World”. I searched Hansard and found some of the verbatim evidence to the Committee taken in Sept 2013 and the final report which was published in March 2014. They concluded that British influence and effectiveness in a changed world now requires different methods of exercising power, in order to safeguard national security and maintain prosperity.
Here’s John Major on the possibility of Scottish Independence
One contributor to the Select committee was former PM Sir John Major who made some telling remarks on the subject of Scottish Independence. It makes for interesting reading. Remember this is late 2013 / early 2014 not long before the Scottish Referendum on Independence. I didn’t hear any reference to Sir John’s contribution during the referendum campaign. Though I can understand why the “Better Together” Campaign wouldn’t mention his evidence, if they even knew about it. While it highlights Scotland’s importance to the Union, it also indicates our potential as an independent nation. This is taken from Ch5 of the Report:
- …he (Major) had seen the issue of Scottish independence “Increasingly” being raised
- …it has come up in a number of countries, simply because they would perceive a country that was damaged and diminished if a chunk of it voluntarily chose to leave
- … He worried that we would have had a political fracture of a most dramatic nature.
- … if Scotland were to secede, “Apart from an extremely talented chunk of the United Kingdom disappearing, we would be diminished.
- … Our voice would be weakened.
- … As to whether we would retain our seat on the UN Security Council, very possibly for a while but at some stage that is bound to be reformed. I think were we to lose in Scotland it may be open to doubt when that change comes whether we would retain our position.
- … We would find ourselves weakened in the IMF. We would find ourselves weakened in the G8, the G20.
And the Committee’s own conclusion on Scotland seceding from UK:
- … the UK’s aim and claim to continue to play a major role in world affairs would be undermined by Scottish separation,
It doesn’t surprise me that rUK will be weakened when Scotland leaves the Union. But I tend to think of that in economic terms since rUK is already running a large trade deficit and will become economically weaker when it no longer has access to Scottish resources. Sir John and the Committee focus on diplomatic weakness, as well as highlighting a weakened influence in rUK’s relationships with IMF, G8, G20.
Though they are not included in the final report, Sir John added these further remarks:
- I am wary to go on about Scotland, but the belief that, because they are in the European Union as part of the United Kingdom, they would automatically be there if they were to leave is fallacy. They would not.
- They would have to apply to rejoin at a time when the European Union is in no hurry about new members. I am sure they would get in, but it would take them 10 years and who knows what conditions of entry they would get. They do not know and I do not know.
- They say casually that they would use sterling. That is not their decision and if they think they are going to use sterling as a temporary interregnum for 10 years while they get themselves into the European Union, I do not know what the Prime Minister and the Chancellor can say, but I know very clearly what I would have said some time ago were that proposition put to me.
- Let me touch on emotion, just for one second. We are coming up to the anniversary of the First World War. The Scottish National Party has chosen the anniversary of Bannockburn. There is another anniversary, that of the First World War, and how odd it would be on the 100th anniversary of the war in which Scots, Irish, English and Welsh fought together that we would commemorate that anniversary as separate countries. It seems to me to be folly on a grand scale for anyone even to contemplate that.
The first two of these additional remarks were possibly relevant in 2013 especially when UK media was pushing comments about Brussels not admitting us to EU, or Spain blocking us. It’s hard to see that they are still relevant now, post Brexit decision, when Spain has clarified that it would not block Scotland joining and some in the EU, now being massively fed up with UKGov, are making very friendly and encouraging remarks about Scotland replacing UK as the 28th EU Member State.
His comment about using sterling as an interim currency had force in 2013. Though it doesn’t seem correct to say that an independent Scotland could be stopped from using sterling by rUKGov. Certainly SNP’s most recent paper, “Scotland – The New Case for Optimism”, proposes that “the currency of an independent Scotland should remain the pound sterling for a possibly extended transition period.” Though adding that “a decision to move to an independent Scottish currency should be based on a governance process and criteria set out clearly in advance of voters making a decision on independence.”
But it is true that doubts about the currency was one of the main reasons that people voted ‘No’ in Sept 2014 and it’s something that will need to be tackled before IndyRef2.
These were the three most common reasons for people voting ‘No’ from a Lord Ashcroft Poll done the day after the referendum. Mind you, even if currency is still an issue at least the same can’t said for worries about EU, the economy, jobs and prices all of which are either off the table altogether or are decidedly shooglier post-Brexit.
Sir John’s last remark is also pertinent even if he did ignore the fact that Ireland was part of UK in 1914 but is independent now. Scots do feel an emotional connection with UK and a loyalty to our shared history. I think it’s another thing to be tackled in the sunup to IndyRef2. And since this loyalty may be something that commoner in older people then we’ll have to find a persuasive narrative to counter it.